Floor scrubbers are a needed tool for keeping floors clean. It is frustrating when a scrubber is not working and a job needs to be done. As with any type of equipment, they do require some maintenance to continue working properly. Many problems can be avoided just by having the operator become somewhat familiar with the basic functions of the machine and the common issues that may arise. This and the next blog will focus on some of the most common problems that can arise when using a scrubber. Most of these can be prevented by routine maintenance. In this installment we will discuss how to troubleshoot problems with floor scrubbers not putting water down and not picking it up.
Problem: The machine is not sucking all the dirty water up.
This can be caused by a few different things and we will break this up into 2 parts. The first part: Is the vac motor running?
First, make sure that the vac motor is running. If the vac motor is coming on and the scrubber is not picking up the dirty water there are some very simple reasons why. Always start with simplest things first! Where the rubber meets the road with any scrubber is the squeegee. Is the vac hose attached to the squeegee? If so pull the vac hose off the squeegee assembly. Feel the end of the hose. Is there plenty of suction? If not check for an obstruction in the hose. You might find something like this:
Clogged up vac hoses are a simple fix. Sometimes debris can be further up the hose toward the recovery tank. It may be necessary to take the vac hose off and inspect it. A broom handle works good for clearing out clogged up vac hoses. Also look inside the squeegee where the vac hose attaches to it. The clog could be there too.
Check the drain hose for the dirty water. Is the drain cap secured to the hose? An open drain hose will be allowing suction to enter the recovery tank. This will cause there to be very little suction on the vac hose.
Also look at the vac hose for cracks or holes. You could be losing a lot of suction that way. If the hose is ok and there is not enough suction follow the vac hose to where it is attached to the recovery tank. Make sure it is actually attached to the tank. It is a good idea to keep a spare replacement vac hose on hand.
Suction can also be lost by cracks in the gaskets on the recovery lid. There will be some type of lid to get into the recovery tank. Here is an example of some problem vac lids. This one is an Advance Warrior recovery tank cover. Notice the gaps in the gasket. Suction is being lost there.
Scrubbers also have some way to filter the air going into the vac motor. This can be done by a filter panel like the ones on the Tennant 5700 and 5680. These paper filters need to be pulled and cleaned and dried after each use. Always keep a spare one. Other machines like NSS Wrangler, Nobles Speed Scrub, 5400, 2401, 2601, 2701, 3301 use a stainless steel screen cage to filter the air. They also have ping pong balls to block the water from getting into the vac motor. When the recovery tank gets full these balls float up and block the water from getting into the vac motor. The vac motor will still run but there will be no suction. Sometimes these balls can get stuck blocking the air even when the tank is not full. It is a good idea to take these off periodically and clean them. Here is what to look for:
And look inside the recovery tank. You may have a debris tray that collects things that didn't get swept up. The debris tray helps to keep the tank from getting solids in it that don't drain out well. Keep this tray cleaned out. If it gets full and packed with trash the machine will begin to lose suction.
One other thing to check when troubleshooting a lack of suction is to make sure the vac motor is secured to the tank. An improperly installed vac motor can be losing suction by not being pressed against the tank firmly. Feel the vac motor. Is there any movement? It should be firmly against the gasket that is in between the vac motor and the tank. Notice in this picture the vac motor is mounted securely to the tank.
Understanding the basic idea of how the vacuum makes a suction at the squeegee will help in troubleshooting floor scrubber problems. The red arrows in the picture above show how the vac motor creates a vacuum in the recovery tank by pulling the air out of the tank. The black vac hose is bringing air and dirty water up from the squeegee and dumping it in the recovery tank.
If all these things have checked out ok it could be that the vac motor is worn out.
Take the vac off and inspect it. You may find a vac rusted out or filled with wax residue. Sometimes these motors will make a grinding noise. Time to replace.
If there is good suction at the vac hose but the machine is not picking up all the water there are some other things to check.
If it is picking up some of the water but the squeegee is leaving a lot of streaks, take off the squeegee assembly and inspect it. There could be trash, dirt and other stuff blocking the water in between the inner and outer squeegee blades. Clean all this out. It is a very good idea to always take the squeegee off after each use and clean out the squeegee and wipe off the blades.
You might also find that the squeegee blades have just come loose and need to be reinstalled in the assembly. The inner blade can be pulled out of the assembly part way. You may not be able to see this walking behind the machine. Take the Squeegee off. It may look like this:
Notice how the inner blade of this Advance Squeegee is pulled out on one side. The inner squeegee bade tension knob has gotten lose. This can also happen in the middle of the squeegee. Simply put it back on and tighten it up. No tools required on this one. A retainer band and knobs hold most squeegee blades in place. This makes it easy to change the blades. This could be a good time to flip the blades around. Most rear squeegee blades can be flipped to use all 4 edges. When the edges on the rear squeegee are not sharp and have gotten rounded they will not pick up water very well. When this happens you will see streaks of dirty water left behind. It could be time to replace your squeegee blades. We have those here.
What if it is picking up water fine in the middle or the ends of the squeegee but not the entire length of it? Notice these two pictures:
Only picks up the middle Only picks up edges
On this Clarke Boost 20 the pitch of the squeegee is out of adjustment.
Check with your operator manual for instructions on adjusting the pitch. It is usually very easy to do. It should pick up all the water like this:
Now lets look at the 2nd part of this problem: Vac motor is NOT running.
If the vacuum function is engaged and you don't hear the vac motor running first make sure the machine is charged. Anytime a function on a scrubber is not coming on it is good idea to make sure that the scrubber has been fully charged. If the battery voltage is low the scrubber may turn on and drive but the brushes and the vac will not turn on. Or they may come on for a minute or two and then turn off. For more info on checking for low voltage click here.
The next easy thing to check is make sure the recovery tank is not full. A full tank can shut off the vac so that it doesn't overfill and damage the vac motor. Next check the circuit breaker for the vac. Is it popped out? Here is an example of a vac motor breaker. This is on a Windsor Chariot. Make sure all the breakers are pushed in and one of them is not popped out.
Some machines may not have a circuit breaker for the vac. These machines will use an error code on the display panel to let you know there is a problem. Check your operator manual for more information on these errors.
Scrubbers have ways to turn the vac off if the tank is full. Some machines use a float level sensor such as this:
Outside tank view Inside of tank view
When the water level get up to this switch it floats up and shuts off the vac. Check this for dirt and debris. It could be stuck in the up position and the control panel will display that the tank is full when it is not. Or the float part of the switch could be broken and will need to be replaced.
Next check for voltage at the vac motor with a volt meter. Simply unplug the vac motor and check for the proper voltage either 24v or 36v coming from the machine. There is usually a way to unplug the vac motor. You will find either a Delphi plug or male and female crimped connections. If you don't have voltage at the vac motor and you have already checked the items above it is now time to look at switches, relays or contactors.
If the vac is engaged and there is proper voltage at the motor the vac and it is not coming on it will need to be replaced. We have vac motors here for most machines.
If you haven't been able to troubleshoot why your floor scrubber isn't sucking up all the water we can help! Click here for our contact page. We offer free technical support for any brand of floor machine.
Problem: The machine is not putting water down.
Here are the things to look for when you are not getting any or the proper amount of cleaning solution on the floor.
Solution Filter: Many times this doesn't get cleaned and it slowly clogs up. These filter bowels vary in size but it will look similar to the one shown below:
This is easy to fix. Make sure to drain the solution tank first before removing the filter bowel. Then take off the filter bowel, clean the screen and screw the bowel back in place. You don't want it to look like this:
Take the screen out and rinse it with water then reinstall.
Hint: Always keep an extra solution filter and cap in stock. These can get brittle and crack or get damaged pretty easily.
There could also be an inline filter screen like this one off of a Clarke Focus:
Solution valve: Are the wires hooked up? Notice the picture below. Most of these have two wires; check to make sure they're both connected. Some valves also have an adjustment to increase or decrease the amount of water coming out. Is it turned off or down all the way? There could also be debris inside of this valve. Especially if the filter bowel screen has been removed. See the stuff in the picture above? With no screen all that stuff is going into the solution valve. When that happens, it plugs up and can also drip water all the time because the valve can't shut completely.
Call 501-844-1811 for more information.
#3 My machine will only run for a few minutes and then the batteries are dead.
Over the years I've heard countless times. Here's what to look for first. Sometimes it's not a battery problem it's an operator problem. Make sure it is actually being plugged in to charge after it is used. After plugging the charger in make sure it is actually coming on and charging. Can you see the amp reading display showing how many amps it is charging? Most newer machines come with onboard chargers.